“I’ve never seen them before, those spirits… are you sure about that?”
“Yeah, I was scared. He didn’t respond to my calls at all, and… it was strong and scary compared to an ordinary spirit.”
It was already midnight.
In the room assigned to us, Kunpei-san, Shouhei-san, Ru-anesama, Yuuno-san, Jaja and Nana were already fast asleep.
Since I had just soothed Jaja’s night crying just a while ago, I don’t think either of them will wake up for a while longer.
In the meantime, I’ve invited my mother here for advice.
“… Alba, what did that old geezer say?”
“Well, he said something about ancient winds or… old friends. Frankly, I’m too confused to remember.”
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It was unusual for that always aloof Uncle Alba to be so distraught.
Even before I can remember, I’ve known that rat sage.
Mother and the other dragons would always speak ill of him, saying he was always making fun of people and playing tricks, but to me, as a small child, and to Ru-anesama, he seemed more like a good-natured and kind uncle.
To be honest, he was terrifying at that time.
“The green butterfly I saw at Tusk Crag. I think Alba said something about it being the color that shows the reason for life?”
“Umm, yes. Kunpei-san explained it to me. When Jaja and Nana were nursing, the dragon factor flowed from the twins instead of passing the human factor to them. That is what caused Kunepi-san to create that green spirit. Jaja and Nana too.”
I’m a little worried because I didn’t hear it directly from uncle.
That’s all I learned from Kunpei-san.
“…In other words, if you don’t have both the human and dragon factor, you can’t control or recognize that spirit… Honestly, I have an idea, but I have no proof.”
I’m so glad you’re here.
I had questioned uncle so many times since then, but he kept dodging and running away, and I was reaching the limit of what I could shoulder alone.
Kunpei-san doesn’t remember that time, and I was afraid that if he remembered it, he would turn into the strange Kunpei-san like that time.
Among the many dragons, the Dragon Kings are without a doubt the most skilled when it comes to controlling spirits.
When it comes to spirits that govern the sky and wind, I can say with certainty that no dragon can match my mother, the current Dragon King of the Sky, in terms of skill and knowledge in using them.
I never thought I’d see you here, so I’m really glad I was able to talk to you about it.
“As the next sky dragon king, I have already taught you most of what I know. Well, it was completely my fault that I didn’t tell you about childbirth and childcare, so I can’t really argue with you about that.”
“It couldn’t be helped, even my older sisters Ru-anesama and Alice-anesama said they had not yet reached their laying period, so it was because I was too early, wasn’t it? Well, it is true that I was very troubled and worried, but I understand your job as the Dragon King. So it’s not all your fault.”
I was the one who yearned for humans, I was the one who wanted them, and I was the one who loved children.
I have never regretted a single thing since I laid the egg.
Having Jaja and Nana was a wonderful thing.
That much is certain.
“I feel a little better now that you say that. Thank you, Ai.”
Mom’s right hand reached across the table and gently caressed my left cheek as she called out my old name.
It was just like when I was a little girl in our nest at the top of Tusk Crag.
“I think I’ve taught you everything you need to know to be independent and how to use your powers. All that remains is for you to cultivate it through your own training. But there are a few things I didn’t teach you, or couldn’t teach you even if I wanted to. That is, as the Dragon King… there are some secrets that pertain to the entire dragon species.”
Mom looked down with her eyes downcast and somewhat forlorn.
“Besides tuning the sky, which was polluted and ruined by the world clash, there is another reason why I am flying all over the world right now. I’m looking for the Dragon Princess.”
The Dragon Princess?
“I’ve never heard of her.”
“Oh, I’m sure you haven’t. I dare not tell the young dragons nowadays, and the old ones refuse to talk. That, Alba Germain…”
“Sky, earth, and sea, the dragon species are always classified into one of these three races. The Dragon Kings represent them. Me, the sky dragon king, Rubynein, the earth dragon king, and Caroliariselle, the sea dragon king, are the three great dragon kings of our time. We, who call ourselves kings, are naturally more powerful than any of the dragons of our race.”
“The duties of the Dragon Kings are to protect the peace of each race, the Sky Dragon King is responsible for the sky, the Earth Dragon King for the earth, and the Sea Dragon King for the oceans, and to maintain the balance of the stars. But there is one more very important task. That is to protect the Dragon Princess.”
That’s the first time hearing of it.
I thought I knew everything about my mother’s job.
“There are always three dragon princesses in every age. The Dragon Princess of Wind, who is of the Air Dragon race, has the Dragon King of the Air, the Dragon Princess of Fire, who is of the Earth Dragon race, has the Dragon King of the Earth, and the Dragon Princess of Water, who is of the Sea Dragon race, has the Dragon King of the Sea. There are three Dragon Kings and three Dragon Princesses in each of the three dragon races. The original dragon species is a race with six dragons at the top. Even we Dragon Kings don’t know why these Dragon Princesses exist.”
“You don’t know? Even though we have to protect them?”
“The Dragon King has a duty to protect them, just as the Dragon Princess has their duties. The only people who know the details are the three dragon princesses and Alba Germain. I have also questioned the Dragon Princess of the Wind herself in the past, but no matter how much I tried to threaten her, she would not talk at all.”
T-threaten, what in the world did you do, mother?
“The Dragon Princess is really laughably weak. If the beastmen, humans, and demons attacked her in the right numbers, they could easily kill her. She is the weakest of the dragon species. There’s only one thing they could do that even we, the Dragon Kings, cannot imitate.”
Even a Dragon King can’t?
Is there such a thing?
My mother and I are sky dragons. Higher beings of the sky dragon race.
We have all the various abilities of the sky dragon race.
That is why the lineage of the sky dragon king is worthy of becoming one.
I have been told many times since I was a child that the dragon bearing the name of its species is qualified to be king and has the responsibility to do so.
What in the world is the power that such a dragon king cannot imitate?
“I have no idea. I’ve actually seen them use that power, but I didn’t even know what she was doing or what the result was. Suddenly there’s a dim light, a slight breeze, and yes, it’s over. Do you understand?”
“The wind blew, even if it was a slight breeze, and even I couldn’t detect the signs. I was still inexperienced at the time, but I, the Dragon King…”
The power exercised by the dragon is the power of the spirits.
It is impossible for a Dragon King who can skilfully use spirits, a Dragon King of the sky, to not be able to read the wind.
“I’ve had my doubts for a long time, but now that you’ve explained it to me, I understand it now. In other words, the Dragon Princesses are not using ordinary spirits, but the spirits of life. No wonder I can’t see them.”
She exhaled deliberately through her nose and leaned against the back of her chair.
“You said you were looking for the Dragon Princess, right?”
“I stopped sensing her presence shortly before the world clash 42 years ago. I was in a panic and asked Alba to look for her, but I didn’t hear anything for about ten years. I got impatient and started to look for her myself, when he suddenly appeared and said, ‘I’m hiding her in a secret place, so don’t worry about it. ‘ I was so pissed off that I just ignored him and continued to look for her. I haven’t had any success.”
“Uncle didn’t tell you where she was?”
“Yeah, he was adamant. The Fire Dragon Princess is living happily together with Ruby, and the Water Dragon Princess is Alice’s attendant here on the island. If I am the only one who doesn’t know where Hildegarde is, how do I put it… that I am not appreciated?”
Hildegarde… is that the name of the Dragon Princess of the Wind?
The Water Dragon Princess is Alice-anesama’s attendant?
“Eh, Teseara-san is the Water Dragon Princess?”
“Oops, I said something unnecessary. Please don’t tell my Carolia, okay?”
Wait, wait, wait, the secret of the Dragon Kings, that easily!
I thought you kept it a secret until now!
“… Aoi, be careful.”
Mom, who suddenly had a serious expression, straightened her posture and stared into my eyes.
“The reason I came to this island was because I detected an anomaly in the sky on this continent. That must be what you saw when that kid manipulated the spirit of life. When I arrived, things were almost back to normal, but in a short time, I felt a tremendous number of heavenly spirits disappear. Even I have never seen such a phenomenon before.”
I swallowed with a gulp.
My throat was parched since earlier.
I guess it’s not something I should be thinking about now, that I should have prepared a drink.
“‘Alba Germain’ is certainly on the side of the dragon. But he is hiding something from us, too. The rat would never lie about dragons. That is certain. But there is no doubt that he is hiding something important about dragons.”
The rat sage wears a tricorne with a small body and a large staff.
Who was this ‘Alba Germain’ who is so famous in the lore?
We know nothing about uncle.
But he knows more about us than we do.
“Don’t trust him too much. That sage may be…”
Mother turned away from me and gazed into the dimming light of the sun pillar.
“He may be more powerful and dangerous than us dragons.”
I was caught up in the moment and also looked at the pillar of light.
The pillar, which was illuminated at night with a glow that resembles stars, seemed too weak to illuminate the darkness of this deep sea.